In conjunction with the International Day of the Tropics, the Mahathir Science Award Foundation (MSAF) and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) jointly organised a webinar for the Celebration of the International Day of the Tropics on 29 June 2020. This webinar served to remind Malaysians of our past and current successes as well as provoke thought on the potential for leadership roles for Malaysia to play.
The forum consisted of a keynote address on climate change and presentations from eminent speakers that focused on four themes of the Mahathir Science Award: Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Natural Resources, Tropical Medicine, and Tropical Architecture and Engineering. The webinar also featured a panel discussion on the vision for a Federated Data Platform for Tropical Biodiversity and a discussion on Kuala Lumpur Declaration for the Tropics.
The event began with a keynote address on Climate Change and the Tropics delivered by Professor Dr Joy Jacqueline Pereira FASc. She highlighted that countries in the tropics are projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change with global warming increases from 1.5°C to 2°C.
The first presentation on Tropical Agriculture was delivered by Dr Surina Ismail. Her presentation was titled Tropical Agriculture in Malaysia – State of Play. She emphasised that sustainability in agriculture is attainable through a balance between people, planet, and prosperity.
The session on Tropical Biodiversity featured Dr Ahmad Aldrie Amir, with a presentation titled Overview of Tropical Biodiversity and Natural Resources. He shared his view that the increasing demand for materials and energy to cater for rapid human development is severely challenging and jeopardising the resilience and sustainability of tropical biodiversity and natural resources.
Next, Dato’ Dr Ar Ken Yeang made a presentation on the Key Principles on Tropical Architecture and Engineering. He focused on buildings design and urban master plans that would suit the characteristics of the tropical climate. He also particularly emphasised on the ecological features for bioclimatic design.
The second part of the webinar began in the afternoon with a lecture on Rethink, Reengineer and Revolutionise Research in Tropical Diseases by Professor Dr Yvonne Lim Ai Lian FASc. She asserted that the ever-increasing interface between humans, animals and the environment impacted public health, social and economic well-being. Prof Yvonne also highlighted Malaysia’s past successes in eradicating certain diseases in the tropics and deliberated on the opportunities and potential in moving forward COVID-19 post-pandemic.
The webinar then continued with a panel discussion titled Towards a Federated Data Platform on Tropical Biodiversity moderated by Dr Liew Chee Sun. Three panellists discussed on the management of data repositories and discussed the way forward to form a federated data platform under the Malaysian Open Science Platform. The webinar session ended with a discussion on the framework for Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Tropics moderated by Academician Dr Mazlan Othman FASc. The discussion was initiated to get ideas and feedback on the Declaration that would be the outcome of TropSc 2021. The participant of the session suggested adding sustainable development goals for women and young scientists, economics in the Tropics, and the key institutions that will drive the ecosystem and climate change. As the way forward, the discussion suggested to have a programme on Engineering for the Tropics and to carry out a SWOT analysis on the Tropics.
Prepared by Ms Varsheta Sellappah